Looking for lighter, lunch menu ideas for friends? Expand your horizons with a great collection of 16 lunchtime recipes from different cultures around the world. With spring in full swing and summer not too far away (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), it’s time to enjoy the company of family and friends over lunch.
We visit a number of countries and cultures to bring you recipe ideas from all around the world. Our collection of lunch ideas for friends includes drinks, appetizers, soups and salads, mains or entrees, and desserts.
Entertaining at Lunchtime is More Casual
Entertaining in the middle of the day has its advantages. For starters, it can be a more casual affair incorporating simple lunch recipes rather than a more, formal dinner party, held in the evening. Light lunch ideas for guests are perfectly acceptable and particularly in the warmer months.
Lunch with friends and family is also a great way to enjoy the glorious weather (well at least in most places during spring and summer). With being more casual and less formal, it helps promote conversation. It’s also a chance for the kids (and maybe some of the adults) to get out and maybe play a game and enjoy each other’s company.
It makes more sense for summer lunch ideas to focus on light lunch recipes and to take advantage of all the great spring and summer produce. It’s also a great opportunity to eat healthily.
Recipes on Compass & Fork
We feature popular recipes from all the countries we visit on Compass & Fork. You can find them by going to the top of a page and hovering over the Recipe dropdown, where you can then click on a cuisine which piques your interest. We also feature a dinner party from each country.
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DINNER PARTY MENU, complete with recipes!
If you want some other, lighter meals for spring and summer, you might also enjoy these collections of:
- Gluten-free recipes for spring and summer.
- BBQ/grill recipes from around the world.
- Popular paleo recipes for summer.
- Popular seafood recipes for a lighter touch.
But, now it’s onto our collection of lunchtime recipes. We hope you enjoy this collection of lunch menu ideas for friends. Remember to click on the link or the picture for the recipe.
Drinks: Lunch Menu Ideas for Friends
The national drink of Peru (and Chile) is my favorite cocktail anywhere. It’s a perfect drink in warmer weather and one or two really put you in the mood for what is to follow. If you enjoy a margarita, you will love this drink made from pisco, freely available in most countries, and limes. Simple to make.
Appetizers: Lunch Menu Ideas for Friends
The country which gave the potato to the world knows a thing or two about potatoes, with more than 4,000 varieties (that is not a typo) between Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. If you are looking for a slightly more formal starter, albeit a little more work, which looks a treat, give this a try. Known as causa in Peru, it is wildly popular there and tastes as good as it looks.
This falls into the category of easy lunch ideas for guests. And quick. A simple marinade, some rest time, and then a few minutes on the outdoor grill or under the broiler. Popular all around the world, these garlic prawns have a Spanish touch with a little smoked paprika.
Yet another trip to Peru, this time to enjoy healthy and light ceviche. Simply raw fish “cooked” in citrus, it is a taste sensation which is now so popular around the world. Yet another reason why Peru has been voted world’s best gastronomic destination for the past 5 years. With 3 of the world’s top 10 restaurants in Lima, maybe it’s worth a trip to find out for yourselves!
Salads & Soups: Lunch Menu Ideas for Friends
You will find larb on the menu of any good Thai restaurant. Laos and Cambodia also have their own version of this tangy and refreshing salad. If you are looking for summer lunch ideas, larb might be right up your alley. It’s incredibly healthy with an array of veggies, herbs and spices that blend perfectly with chicken. It’s a big call but this might be my favorite salad ever.
While Greece might be the country which marketers promote as having the world’s best/thickest yogurt, I think Bulgaria’s yogurt is superior and incredibly cheap if you happen to visit there. Called tarator in Bulgaria, this is a cold, yogurt-based soup also containing cucumber and some beautiful spicing. It’s perfect as a stater on a warm day and easy to make if you are looking for quick and easy lunches.
I must confess and admit this is not a salad you will find in Uruguay. As anyone who has ever visited that country knows, it is all about the beef and I would say it is the most steak-obsessed country we have visited. This is a salad we made to go with Uruguay’s awesome steaks (best I have tasted anywhere). Another lighter touch which makes for a simple lunch recipe. And healthy!
Here is a classy salad which incorporates grilled seafood. Teaming with avocado, wild rice, baby spinach, bell pepper and snow peas (mange tout), calamari and shrimp (or whatever seafood you want to use), it’s colorful, crunch, healthy and light. A perfect lunch idea for friends when you want a casual meal.
Mains: Lunch Menu Ideas for Friends
If you buy mussels which have already been cleaned and are ready to cook, this dish is very quick and easy. Steamed mussels are the taste of the sea! This Greek version incorporates garlic, oregano and white wine. Make some crusty ciabatta at home and then use the bread to dip into the sauces. Sheer bliss!
Talk about light lunch ideas for guests! Blue corn fish tacos are just perfect for a casual lunch. There is a little work in the preparation of these, but when your guests are ready to eat, it’s just a matter of serving the toppings and fixings, such as corn kernels and avocado, on plates and let people make their own. And, kids just love that! Oh, and it’s healthy too.
If you are looking for a warmer lunch with a little more substance, then Greek Spanakopita might be the go. True comfort food incorporating beautifully spiced spinach and feta and ricotta cheese, topped with filo pastry. A great dish to share with friends over lunch and a few wines!
Surely the inspiration for the American hash brown, the national dish of Switzerland, potato rosti makes a perfect brunch option. You can eat them plain or top them with whatever you have on hand. We give you three gourmet options for toppings. And, as you can imagine, kids and adults alike love potato rosti.
Yet another option from Greece and a delicious meal which truly showcases the Mediterranean diet. Healthy and full of taste with some common herbs, this one is perfect for the outdoor grill. One of my all-time, favorite chicken recipes, I don’t know anyone that doesn’t enjoy this simple dish. Talk about easy lunch ideas for guests.
Desserts: Lunch Menu Ideas for Friends
In Crete, I was quite surprised to find rice pudding on the menu of many restaurants there. Upon further research I have since realized that it is popular all over the world, with most countries having their own local version. This Greek version is cooked on the stovetop, not the oven, and is true comfort food to make a perfect ending for a casual lunch with friends.
In many parts of the world, such as Morocco, it is customary to finish a meal with fruit. Moroccan cuisine, enjoys a deserved reputation, so why not try a simple dessert which is healthy, super quick to make and sure to be enjoyed by all ages. All you need are some tasty oranges and within minutes this is ready to go, or you can prepare it in advance.
Loukoumades are Greek donuts and popular everywhere throughout the country. I have lightened them up by using labna (thick yogurt) in the batter, and topping them with sesame seeds and honey, rather than sugar. Although you can prepare the batter in advance, they’re a little more work than the oranges above, in that they need to be cooked just before serving. But, trust me, your friends and family will love you forever!